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ture with the climate. Those persons whose knowledge in such matters is but superficial, will not enter readily into these sentiments. They are accustomed to consider certain words, in the different languages, as respectively correspondent. The grammars, lexicons, and common translations, lead them to conclude so, and they inquire no further. But those who are conversant with authors of reputation in these different tongues, will need no arguments to convince them of the truth of what has been advanced.

Who knows not that the Latin word virtus would, in many instances, be but weakly, not to say improperly rendered by the English word virtue; as that word, in Roman authors, comes often nearer the import of what we call valour or fortitude, sometimes even brute force? We should not readily ascribe virtue to wild beasts; yet Tacitus so applies the term virtus:-" Fera animalia, si clausa teneas, virtutis obliviscuntur." And if some of our words have too great latitude of signification to answer always to their Latin etymons, some have, on the contrary, too little. For example, the English word temperance is too confined in meaning to answer to the Latin temperantia, which implies moderation in every desire, and is defined by Cicero, in one place, "Moderatio cupiditatum rationi obediens;"* and in another, "Temperantia est quæ in rebus aut expetendis aut fugiendis, rationem ut sequamur, monet."+ Now all that is implied in the English word is almost only that species which he denominates "temperantia in victu." And, though the differences may not be so considerable in all the other related words abovementioned, it were easy to show that they cannot, in every instance, be made to tally.

It requires, indeed, but a very small skill in languages to enable us to discover, that etymology is often a very unsafe guide to the proper acceptation of a term. It will not be doubted that the Latin word sobrius is the root of the English word sober, and their term honestum of our term honesty; but every body knows that the related words in the two languages will not always answer to each other. Nay, to show, in the strongest manner, how much more difficult it is, than is commonly imagined, to apprehend the precise import and proper application of words of this order in dead languages, I shall transcribe a short passage from the fourth book of the Tusculan Questions, where the author explains the generic word ægritudo, with the various names of species comprehended under it. Amongst other observations are the following:-"Egritudo est opinio recens mali præsentis, in quo demitti contrahique animo rectum esse videatur. Ægritudini subjiciuntur angor, moeror, dolor, luctus, ærumna, afflictatio: angor est ægritudo premens, mæror ægritudo flebilis, ærumna ægritudo laboriosa, dolor ægritudo crucians,

* De Finibus, 1. ii,

↑ De Finibus, 1. i.


afflictatio ægritudo cum vexatione corporis, luctus ægritudo ex ejus qui carus fuerat interitu acerbo." "Let any one," says D'Alembert,* examine this passage with attention, and say honestly, whether, if he had not known of it, he would have had any idea of these nice shades of signification here marked; and whether he would not have been much embarrassed, had he been writing a dictionary, to distinguish with accuracy the words ægritudo, mæror, dolor, angor, luctus, ærumna, afflictatio. If Cicero, the greatest philosopher as well as orator that ever Rome produced, had composed a book of Latin synonymas, such as Abbé Girard did of French; and if this work had but now for the first time been produced in a circle of modern Latinists, I imagine it would have greatly confounded them, in showing them how defective their knowledge is of a subject of which they thought themselves masters."

I have brought this quotation, not to support D'Alembert's opinion, who maintains that it is possible for any modern writer to write Latin with purity; but only to show how much nicer a matter it is than is commonly supposed, to enter critically into the peculiarities of a dead language. It might be easily shown, were it necessary, that distinctions like those now illustrated in the nouns, obtain also in the verbs of different languages. Under this class those words also may be comprehended which are not barely the names of certain things, or signs of particular ideas, but which express also the affection or disposition of the speaker towards the thing signified. In every language we shall find instances wherein the same thing has different names, which are not perfectly synonymous; for though there be an identity of subject, there is a difference of manner, wherein the speaker appears affected towards it. One term will convey the idea with contempt, another with abhorrence, a third with some relish, a fourth with affection, and a fifth with indifference. Of this kind are the diminutives and the amplificatives which abound so much in the Greek and Italian languages.

It is this principally which justifies Girard's observation, that there are much fewer words in any language which are in all respects synonymous, than is commonly imagined. And it is this which makes the selection of apposite words so much, and so justly, the study of an orator: for when he would operate on the passions of his hearers, it is of the last consequence that the terms he employs not only convey the idea of the thing signified, which may be called the primary use, but that, along with it, they insinuate into the minds of the hearers the passion of the speaker, whatever it be, love or hatred, admiration or contempt, aversion or desire. This, though the secondary use of the word, is not the less essential to his design. It is chiefly from the associated affection that these different qualities of synonymous words

*Sur l'Harmonie des Langues, et sur la Latinité des Modernes.

taken notice of by Quintilian must be considered as originating: "Sed cum idem frequentissime plura significent, quod ovvwvva vocatur, jam sunt alia aliis honestiora, sublimiora, nitidiora, jucundiora, vocaliora." The last is the only epithet which regards merely the sound. The following will serve for an example of such English synonymas-public speaker, orator, declaimer, haranguer, holder-forth. The subject of them all is the same, being what the first expression, public speaker, simply denotes; the second expresses also admiration in the person who uses it; the third conveys disapprobation, by hinting that it is the speaker's object rather to excite the passions than to convince the judgment; the fourth is disrespectful, and the fifth contemptuous.

But there is a difference in words called synonymous, arising from the customary application, even when they imply little or nothing of either sentiment or affection. The three words, death, decease, demise, all denote the same thing. The first is the simple and familiar term; the second is formal, being much employed in proceedings at law; the third is ceremonious, and scarcely used of any but princes and grandees. There are also some words peculiar to poetry, some to burlesque, which it is needless here to specify. From these observations we learn, that, in writings where words of this second class frequently occur, it is impossible in a consistency with either perspicuity or propriety, to translate them uniformly by the same terms, like those of the first. For, as has been observed, they are such as do not perfectly correspond with the terms of a different tongue. You may find a word that answers exactly to the word in question in one acceptation that will not suit it in another; though for this purpose some other term may be found equally well adapted.

It was too servile an attempt in the first translators of the Old Testament (at least of the Pentateuch, for the whole does not appear to have been translated at one time, or by the same persons) at this rigid uniformity, in rendering the same Hebrew words by the same Greek words, which has given such a peculiarity of idiom to the style of the Septuagint, and which, issuing thence as from its fountain, has infected more or less all the writings of the New Testament. I might observe further, that there are some words in the original by no means synonymous, which have been almost uniformly rendered by the same term-partly perhaps through not adverting sufficiently to some of the nicer differences of signification, partly through a desire of avoiding as much as possible in the translation, whatever might look like comment or paraphrase. Of this I shall have occasion to take notice afterwards.

5. The third class above-mentioned, is of those words in the language of every nation, which are not capable of being translated into that of any people who have not a perfect conformity with them in those customs which have given rise to those words.

Such are the names of weights, measures, and coins, which are for the most part different in different countries. There is no way that a translator can properly take in such cases, but to retain the original term, and give the explanation in the margin. This is the way which has actually been taken, perhaps in all the translations of the Old Testament. To substitute for the original term a definition or circumlocution, if the word frequently occur, would encumber the style with an offensive multiplicity of words and awkward repetitions, and thereby destroy at once its simplicity, vivacity, and even perspicuity. In this class we must also rank the names of the particular rites, garments, modes, exercises, or diversions, to which there is nothing similar among those into whose language the version is to be made. Of this class there are several words retained in the common English translation: some of which, by reason of their frequency, have been long since naturalized amongst us; as synagogue, sabbath, jubilee, purim, ephod, homer, ephah, shekel, gerah, teraphim, urim and thummim, phylacteries, cherubim, seraphim, and a few others.

Beside these, often the names of offices, judicatories, sects, parties, and the like, scarcely admit of being transferred into a version in any other manner. It must be owned, however, that in regard to some of these, especially offices, it is a matter of greater nicety than is commonly imagined, to determine when the name ought to be rendered in the translation by a term imperfectly corresponding, and when it ought to be retained. What makes the chief difficulty here is, that there are offices in every state, and in every constitution, which are analogous to those of other states and constitutions in many material circumstances, though they differ in many other. It is not always easy to say, whether the resemblances or the peculiarities preponderate; if the former, the word ought to be translated; if the latter, it ought to be retained. The inconveniency of an excess in the first way is, that it may lead the reader into mistakes: that of an excess in the second is, that it occasions obscurity, and by the too frequent interspersion of uncouth and foreign words, gives the appearance of barbarism to a version.

It may be said, however, in general, that the latter is the safer error of the two. Not only does the specialty of the case afford a sufficient apology for the use of such words; but if either the dignity of the nation, which is the subject, or our connexion with the people, or interest in their history, shall familiarize us to their institutions and customs, the barbarism of the terms will vanish of course. Who considers now these names of Roman magistracies, consul, prætor, edile, censor, questor, dictator, tribune, as barbarous? Yet they are not the names of offices amongst us correspondent or similar to those among the Romans. To have employed instead of them, mayor, alderman, sheriff, &c. we should have justly thought much more exceptionable. I have heard of

a Dutch translator of Cæsar's Commentaries, who always rendered consul burgomaster, and, in the same taste, the names of all the other officers and magistrates of Rome. A version of this kind would appear to us ridiculous.

6. It is almost unnecessary to observe, that the two last are the only classes of words wherein the student will find any thing that can greatly puzzle him. A mere school-boy, with the help of his grammar and lexicon, may acquire all that is requisite for the just interpretation of the words of the first class. Those of the third, it is manifest, are not to be understood by us without a previous knowledge of the religious and political constitutions of the country, together with their ceremonies and usages; and those of the second, which is the matter of the greatest delicacy of all, cannot be thoroughly apprehended without an acquaintance with the national character; that is, the prevalent cast of mind, manners, and sentiments of the people. So much is necessary in order to be master of the language of any country; and of so much importance it is, in order clearly to comprehend the style of Scripture, to be well acquainted with whatever concerns the Jewish nation.



IT is true, that, as the New Testament is written in Greek, it must be of consequence that we be able to enter critically into the ordinary import of the words of that tongue, by being familiarized to the genius and character of those who spoke it. But from what has been observed it is evident, that though, in several cases, this knowledge may be eminently useful, it will not suffice; nay, in many cases it will be of little or no significancy. Those words, in particular, which have been in most familiar use with the old interpreters, and have been current in the explanations given in the Hellenistical synagogues and schools, have, with their naturalization among the Israelites, acquired in the Jewish use, if I may be allowed the expression, an infusion of the national spirit. Though the words therefore are Greek, Jewish erudition is of more service than Grecian, for bringing us to the true acceptation of them in the sacred writings. Would you know the full import of the words ȧyiaouos, for example, and Sikaιoovvη in the New Testament? It will be in vain to rummage the classics. Turn to the pages of the Old Testament. It will avail little to recur to the Greek roots ȧyios and dikŋ. Examine the extent given to the signification of the Hebrew roots wp kadash, and pT3 tzadak, which have given occasion to the introduction of those Greek terms into the translation of the Seventy.

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